Review: The Beauty Queen of Leenane

Alice Mottram 20 May 2015

Focussed on aggravation and stagnation, this play brilliantly presents the rising tensions of the middle-aged Maureen (Martha Murphy) like the bubbling porridge she cooks for her 70 year old mother Mag (Posey Mehta).  Set against the backdrop of Leenane, Galway in the 90s is the ever present hope of escaping for a better life, in conflict with the prejudice of the English and Americans.

Louis Rogers captures the balance between horror and humour perfectly in this “pitch black comedy”, adding touching bits of hilarity, such as Mag’s consumption of the letters, which had the audience unable to stop themselves from laughing. At the same time, the darkness of the play still prevails and is untouched by this lightness. The final moments of the play – whilst still being funny – leave a very chilling feeling.

Every single performance was completely convincing. Posey Mehta’s portrayal of Mag was ceaselessly hilarious, whilst still being subtle enough to provide the darkness and questionable nature that the character needed. Ben Walsh’s performance as Pato was beautifully balanced and felt completely sincere, able to command the stage on his own without detracting from the other characters in dialogue. The infuriation of Ray was played naturally by Tom Ingham, gaining many of the audience’s biggest laughs with his quick and angry humour. However, perhaps the highlight of the play was Martha Murphy’s perfect portrayal of Maureen’s exasperation with her situation against the fiery energy that still consumes her, gaining sympathy whilst still containing the darkness that makes this play surprising.

Technically this play is also very impressive. The two live musicians Emily Collinson and Tom Stebbing helped to provide an incredible tension to the drama, not only presenting beautiful music and an Irish feel, but conveying the eeriness needed between scenes . The set was fabulous, precise and interactive – down to the Kimberleys – and the lighting was subtle enough to give the slight edge of darkness which permeates the play.

If you do nothing else this week other than revise, head down to the Corpus Playroom to watch The Beauty Queen of Leenane. It will leave you laughing, thinking and most definitely slightly scared.

9/10

The Beauty Queen of Leenane is at the Corpus Playroom, 7pm until Saturday. Tickets can be bought here.